Unopposed for the better part of two decades, Beaufort County Sheriff PJ Tanner is facing a challenger for the first time in 12 years in June’s election.
But why does the current man in charge want another four years?
“I have things I still want to accomplish,” said PJ Tanner. ‘My responsibility is to Beaufort County in totality, 647 square miles of responsibility.”
For the last 19 years, Beaufort County and its 250,000 residents and tourists have been Sheriff PJ Tanner’s responsibility.
Tanner believes growth is a continual issue, both in the rapidly expanding county and the Sheriff’s Office itself. While he admits to some mistakes, like the debacle of a reentry process after Hurricane Matthew, his office is also working, growing and changing, he says for the better.
“What we did (after Matthew) is we saw the mistakes that were made and we learned from it,” explains the Sheriff. “and we created a media machine if you would, a social media machine. You wanted to make sure we were front and center on communication and between hurricane Matthew and hurricane Irma we corrected those issues.”
As for those communication issues that his challenger alluded to last week? Tanner says his office is open and honest.
“We want to make sure everything our news outlets get, we want to make sure the citizens can get the same thing. So they can evaluate for themselves what may impact them and how it will impact them.”
‘The Sheriff’s Office budget is solid. Its not only been approved through an ordinance but its also been approved by 11 council members that represent Beaufort County.”
Tanner says his opponent’s claims that growth is “running over” Beaufort county right now are false. But the Sheriff’s Office will have to keep up with technology, and manpower to keep up with the demand for services.
Growth isn’t limited to Beaufort County, but everywhere around the County is exploding as well. The Latitudes development in Hardeeville and East Argent project along Highway 170 may allow folks there to call Jasper County home, but they will be using the Tanger Outlets in Bluffton to shop, and going to the beaches in Hunting Island and Hilton Head. That means more cars, more people, more traffic and potentially more crime.
“As the town of Hardeeville grows the challenges for us in Beaufort County will increase,” says Tanner. “The challenges in Jasper County will increase, with growth comes crime, with crime you have more crime, you have more traffic more collisions more road rage, you put more stress on the resources we have.”
Tanner says there is no way to protect everyone. But he feels like the changes at the Courthouse have improved safety significantly there. His new concern is outdoor venues and events, like the RBC Heritage, WIngfest, 5k runs, St Patrick’s Day on Hilton Head. Those are vulnerable targets in Tanner’s mind, but his office is working to keep everyone safe there.
The other spot on the minds of parents and the Sheriff himself, local schools. Tanner has already created an app this year to let students report possible threats through their phone, but when it comes to arming teachers.
“Teachers are great teachers, but if we are going to increase security in schools we need to do it with technology or we put additional SRO’s in those schools,” explains Tanner. “We don’t need to be asking teachers to bear arms to protect themselves or students.”
As for that “fractured” relationship with other counties that Woodward claims Tanner has?
Tanner says he can and will work with anyone..anytime. If it means keeping citizens safe.
If you’d like to hear more from both candidates, Jojo Woodward and PJ Tanner will be having a forum on May 22 at Rose Hill Plantation.